Beware

What are your corruptions (Matthew 16:1-12). Do you know what corrupts you? To be clear I am asking you what is your Achilles heel? Each person has a weakness, a tender area where we can be exploited. In Greek mythology it was a weak ankle, for others, it may be a weak spot in our character, or perhaps it is a propensity of desire. In each case, the enemy of our soul knows how to exploit us. Back in Jewish territory, Jesus is faced with another attack—this time it is at the hands of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Which is remarkable because these two groups are politically and theologically, enemies. Pharisees are conservatives who believe in angels and the resurrection of the dead. Sadducees are liberals and do not believe in either of those things. (Acts 23:8)

Sorry Trekkies, it was Gabriel Manigault who first penned the phrase the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (1884 Political Creed) We sit and read as witnesses to this very event as these diametrically opposed groups mount a unified front to assault Christ. Jews believe demons can do signs on earth, this is why they mock Jesus as the son of God, yet they also believe that only God can produce a sign from heaven. So they ask for a sign. Jesus responds in Matthew 16:2-3~When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. (ESV) It is an adage that still holds validity today. Red skies have meaning according to the time of day.

During sunrise and sunset, the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. When the sky is red at night, the setting sun sends its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable conditions coming from the west. Usually, good weather follows. A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates a storm system may be moving to the east. 

Jesus’ critics do not need another sign from heaven since many things have already been done prove He is the Messiah. Therefore, Christ Jesus says in Matthew 16:4~An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. So he left them and departed. (ESV) Jesus says I Am done. You get Jonah’s sign. This means the sign will come in Jesus’ own timing. If you know the story this references to His death and resurrection. Later in this very chapter 16 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus will shift again in His life. The first shift was Matthew 4, where Jesus shifted into ministry, this next shift, from that time, will have Him move towards the cross. 

The disciples have gotten all turned around. They think Christ Jesus talking about bread and leaven process, which frustrates Jesus. Matthew 16:11-12~How is it that you fail to understand…Beware of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (ESV) Christ Jesus is teaching us that we need to be cautious in our learning process of faith. There are some who desire to skew our learning. They share their own thoughts and are light in the scripture, while Jesus teaches us the Word of God and not the traditions of men. Take Passover that God institutes just before leading the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, listen to what He has Ole Mo tells the people in Exodus 12:15~For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. (NIV) 

This symbolically represents God’s intention for the people to not take any corrupting influence of Egypt with them into the Promised Land. Today, Jesus says. Beware of the leaven. What is there in your life, that acts as leaven? For you, it might be the internet, social media, texting, a relationship, a habit, a career, an addiction, pornography, idle chitchat, caffeine or confections. I want each of us to take time today to fill in the blank. ________ is leaven in my life. Over the remainder of our 21-Days, let’s reform our lives into what Jesus Christ desires them to be. Learning to listen better, to the Holy Spirit, removing the leaven and filling us with the Word, and His Way forward.


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